Friday, October 8th marks the start of the NLDS, which is a best of five series. The matchup between the Milwaukee Brewers and Atlanta Braves will mark their first ever clash in the play-offs. Both teams have their strengths and weaknesses, so here are a few keys in order for the Brewers to beat the Braves.
1) Provide Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff With Run Support
All season Burnes and Woodruff excelled at limiting runs. Burnes ended up winning the Brewers first ever ERA title and Woodruff finished fourth. However, it is no secret that both pitchers did not always receive optimal run support. Woodruff was the biggest victim of this throughout the year, in fact he is the only pitcher in MLB history to have a sub-.500 record while having an ERA that is top five in his league on a division-winning club.
When you fast forward to the NLDS, Burnes and Woodruff may need a few runs of support, despite their brilliance all regular season. This Braves offensive lineup is deep enough that it is crucial for the Brewers to put up a few runs against their starters.
Charlie Morton has been announced as the Braves starter in game one and Max Fried is likely to start game two. Fried has been one of the best pitchers post all-star break and Morton brings a ton of experience to the mound. However, once removed from the game the Braves bullpen is an area of weakness.
If the Brewers can put up early runs and allow Woodruff or Burnes to pitch with a lead, that would be a dream scenario. Should their lead get big enough this also would take pressure off the pitchers entering in the later innings seeing how Devin Williams is out with an injury.
2) Limit the Home Run Ball
As mentioned earlier, the Braves offensive lineup is very deep. From the first through eighth hitter, anyone of them are capable of taking any pitcher deep. This was evident all season long as the Braves hit the third most home runs across the league and had four players hit 30 or more home runs. They are very dependent upon the home run ball to score runs.
From the Brewers pitching perspective, as a team they allowed just 168 home runs during the regular season. This was good enough for the fifth lowest amount surrendered. When you take those statistics a step further, Brewers starting pitchers gave up just 77 home runs this year. This was the least amount amongst all other starting pitcher groups.
In all reality, it is not very likely that the Brewers will be able to skunk the Braves out of the home run department. However, preventing a crooked number will be a big emphasis for the Crew. In order to do this it is in the Brewers best interest to limit base runners. The Braves are not the best at stringing hits together, so playing solid defense and limiting free passes will be crucial.
If the Brewers are able to do these things, their chances at advancing past the NLDS are pretty good.